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New Jersey peaches are running seven to 10 days early this season

by Logan Brown | July 06, 2010
Generations of New Jersey family farmers have been growing peaches dating back to the 1600s, and with more recent support from the Jersey Fresh promotional program for the past quarter-century, the New Jersey peach is proud to be the original locally grown peach.

Through experience, newer varieties, progressive marketing, innovative packaging and high standards for food safety and traceability, New Jersey peach growers have always offered the finest peaches available anywhere. Following on that proud heritage for 2010, the weather for the past 12 months has now set up New Jersey with a nearly perfect crop of peaches.

This year's crop got its great start from last year's weather. The moisture combined with warm temperatures last summer initiated very healthy tree growth, which set the foundation for a full crop of buds this year. The winter followed with continued ideal peach-growing conditions. During the winter, the trees enjoyed more than enough chill hours to get a good rest. As a bonus, no bitter-cold temperatures were experienced, so the buds had no problems getting all the way into spring and summer with zero frost damage.

There will be a full steady crop with excellent color in all varieties. In the spring, the weather continued to be good with periodic rain that was easily complemented by some irrigation as needed. The full bud set combined with near-perfect weather has once again reinforced the proven benefits of aggressive bloom thinning. Working with bigger crews than usual, and getting an earlier start than usual, coming into the season New Jersey peach growers seized the perfect opportunity to get just the right balance of blooms for this summer's crop.

Thanks to the excellent weather, the whole New Jersey peach crop is expected to be between seven to 10 days early. The first early-variety New Jersey peaches were harvested June 24. Instead of the normal mid-July start, commercial volumes this year can be expected to begin in early July. Peak volumes are expected to be available from about July 10 through around Sept. 10, with a steady supply throughout. Sentry, one of New Jersey's earlier commercial varieties, is looking great. That will be followed by Red Havens and similar varieties.

In late July, the John Boy variety is expected to start. Toward the end of July, the Bounty variety will arrive to bring the crop into early August before the handoff in mid-August to the Crest Haven variety. Mid- to late August should see the Jersey Queen, followed by the Encore and Laurel varieties, which should start in the later part of August and go until about Sept. 12-15. Most packing should be completed by around Sept. 20.

White peaches will also be available in steady supply from New Jersey. Starting with the White Lady variety in mid-July, it will be followed by the Klondike, Sugar Giant, Lady Nancy and Snow Giant varieties. With expanded production, New Jersey white peaches will be available throughout the season. A full crop of full-color nectarines should also start shipping in mid-July, with a steady supply through late August.

The standard pack for New Jersey peaches continues to be the half-bushel box volume-fill pack, averaging 25 pounds depending on fruit size. But New Jersey's peach growers can offer a full range of packing choices to meet any retailer request or market need. Tray packs are available for ready-to-eat peaches and standard larger fruit, which are both expected to move well this year. Special gift box packs will also be available.

Some packers will be offering three- and four-pound clear clamshell packs. One of the larger shippers of New Jersey peaches is again offering its value- added paper totes with nine paper totes to a box featuring three to four pounds (about seven or eight peaches) in each tote. Thirty-pound returnable plastic containers are also available to meet the needs of even the largest retailers.

For the past 56 years, the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council has worked to promote the state's peach crop. In support of the 2010 season, the council will continue its print advertising and on-line marketing through a newly expanded web site and other Internet resources such as YouTube.

The council will continue its extensive industry outreach programs with buyer tours, retailer visits, in-store promotion and sampling events -- even scheduled in-store appearances by the New Jersey peach queen. The council has available the 2010 New Jersey Peach Buyers Guide listing all of the growers and shippers of New Jersey peaches.

Peach point-of-sale advertising is available from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. "Jersey Fresh" peach price cards, consumer peach storage and nutritional information take-one packs and a large, brightly colored two- foot-by-three-foot "Born to be Keen, Jersey Fresh Peaches" poster are all available free.

For more information about peach promotion activities, contact Jerry Frecon at the Gloucester County Extension Office at 856/307-6450.

For a copy of the 2010 New Jersey Peach Buyers Guide, peach price cards, peach take-ones or peach posters, contact the New Jersey Department of Agriculture by phone at 609/292-8856 or via e-mail at

(Logan Brown is economic development representative at the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.)